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Setting Goals & Rewarding Yourself

Welcome back! We hope you made space in your schedule during the break to rest, have fun and celebrate milestones. Now that spring quarter is in full motion, we encourage you to schedule your time wisely to help you be and feel successful. And remember, time spent on self-care will lead to a more productive graduate student experience.

Goal setting. No matter where you’re at in your grad school trajectory, it’s always good to set (and revisit) your goals in order to continue making progress. What larger goals would you like to complete this quarter? Is it a realistic number of goals? Which ones must be completed this quarter versus ones that have flexible deadlines? What manageable, smaller tasks need to be completed to achieve your larger goals? Do you have a support system to hold you accountable and advocate for your progress (e.g. faculty advisors or mentors, peers, community members, loved ones)? In thinking about getting mentor support, be mindful that no single mentor can fulfill all of your needs. It’s best to build a supportive mentor network.

Motivation. Part of the challenge of completing a graduate degree is that incentives and rewards are delayed. This makes it especially important to stay focused on all the reasons you entered graduate school in the first place. Maybe you’re wanting to land that dream job in industry, interested in providing more financial stability for your family after graduation, passionate about creating policies that promote social justice in society or excited about being a researcher beyond the UW. All of these are valid reasons to stay motivated while working towards your degree.

Reward yourself. Related to the previous point on motivation, it’s important to develop strategies and systems that celebrate the range of your achievements in graduate school—no matter how small or big the milestone. Finished reading all of your assigned articles for the day; stream an hour or two of your favorite TV show. Completed one hour of productive writing; make plans to catch up with a friend or family member whom you haven’t talked to in a while. Completed cover letter drafts for job applications; order take out! Rewarding yourself can also include going for a run, making plans for a day hike or going camping for the weekend with peers. Your reward system is individual, so do what feels best for you.

We hope you find these tips useful, and have a great upcoming weekend!


Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs
UW Graduate School